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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleads not guilty to Boston Marathon bombings

07.10.13 at 4:21 pm ET
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in court for the first time Wednesday since the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in court for the first time Wednesday since the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP)

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to terrorism charges in his first courtroom appearance since his capture on April 19, four days after he and his deceased brother allegedly set off a pair of blasts at the Marathon finish line, killing three while injuring and maiming over 260 others.

Showing off a smile through an apparent jaw injury, the 19-year-old Tsarnaev blew kisses at his sisters in court after leaning over a microphone and uttering “not guilty” repeatedly in a Russian accent to 30 charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

The arraignment lasted just seven minutes and took place in a courtroom packed with bombing victims, their families, police officers, and members of the public and the media.

Authorities say Tsarnaev coordinated the April 15 Marathon attack along with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a shootout with police three days after the bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested on April 19 when he was found hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard. He was initially charged in the hospital, where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a police shootout.

Three people — Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29; and Lingzi Lu, 23 — were killed by the bombs, which were improvised from pressure cookers. Authorities say the Tsarnaevs also killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier days later while they were on the run.

Numerous bombing victims had legs amputated after the two explosions, which detonated along the final stretch of the race a couple hours after the elite runners had finished.

Tsarnaev’s two sisters, both dressed in Muslim wear, were in court Wednesday. One was carrying a baby, the other wiped away tears with a tissue. The suspect’s parents remain in Russia.

Reporters and spectators began lining up for seats in the courtroom at 7:30 a.m. as a dozen Federal Protective Service officers and bomb-sniffing dogs surrounded the courthouse.

Four hours before the hearing, the defendant arrived at the courthouse in a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van, a Humvee and a state police car.

A group of about a dozen Tsarnaev supporters cheered as the motorcade arrived. The demonstrators yelled, “Justice for Jahar!” as Tsarnaev is known. One woman held a sign that said, “Free Jahar.”

Lacey Buckley, 23, traveled from her home in Wenatchee, Wash., to attend the arraignment. Buckley said she has never met Tsarnaev but came because she believes he’s innocent. “I just think so many of his rights were violated. They almost murdered an unarmed kid in a boat,” she told The Associated Press.

According to prosecutors, Tsarnaev, wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the inside walls and beams of the boat where the Muslim was captured. He wrote the U.S. government was “killing our innocent civilians.”

“I don’t like killing innocent people,” he wrote, but added: “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”

Read More: Boston Marathon, Boston Marathon bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev